Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Duke Consideration

I don't imagine you'd think yourself familiar with the work of Vladimir Dukelsky, and the name Vernon Duke might draw a blank with you too.

But if you've been digging 'Can't Get Started' in the Cannonball or maybe already know vocal versions by Sinatra or Mel Tormé, if you've ever sung along to 'Autumn In New York' or 'April In Paris' or swung along to 'Taking A Chance On Love' then You Have Been Listening to the man in question.

A Belarusian émigré to the US who trained at the Kiev Conservatory, staged ballets with Serge Diaghilev, became a close friend of both Sergei Prokofiev and George Gershwin and continued to compose 'classical' music throughout his life under his real name, Duke (as we shall cheekily call him) also happened to pen some of the most beautiful standards in the American popular songbook.

Sinatra especially always namechecked him in performance. His wistful lyricism and soaring melodies are really quite something; and with Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer, Richard Rodgers and Jerome Kern as contemporaries, he was hardly running in a race of pygmies.

On Monday I started playing his tunes, but the strange thing is, I didn't make the connection...I just hopped from the perfect-for-the-time-of-year 'Autumn' to a lovely 'What Is There To Say?' as done by both Bill Evans and Sonny Rollins, to 'Can't Get Started', which I posted for feeling that way, and only afterwards did I realise all these songs were Vernon Duke's.

Then I learned from Wiki that his 'old calendar' birthday was on Sunday.

'These are the coincidences that thrill my imagination'.

Let the leaves fall....

Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong - 'Autumn In New York' (1957)
Sonny Rollins - 'What Is There To Say?' (1957)
Frank Sinatra - 'I Can't Get Started' (1959)

As you'll tell from the crackles, the first and third are vinyl rips. Thanks to Greer, who stoked the flames of this one x


  1. That's quite an instance of synchronicity. Really interesting post! You were right, never heard of the man, but know his music well.

  2. I seem to be experiencing a lot of these weird coincidences lately: if I were a character in a Philip K.Dick novel they would be sure signs of me living in a fabricated reality. Or something.

  3. And there was you not getting look at the lovely things pouring out. Can't wait to get back and dig those autumn treasures


  4. I was amazed about the dance background- Balanchine too!

    Absolutely lovely to have the Sonny Rollins version of 'What Is There To Say?', thank you so much x.

  5. oh, and ps- I didn't do a thing, it was all your own brilliance.

  6. Nice bit of stuff. You are living in a fabricated reality by the way.

  7. We don't exist. We are actually a bored junior at Google. They're messing with your mind!


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